Wigan 20 Warrington 22: Warriors pay penalty as Hodgson kicks winner
00:15 GMT, 24 March 2012
Brett Hodgson's 40-metre penalty with eight minutes left took Warrington to Super League’s summit.
Hodgson kept his nerve when Wigan’s Epalahame Lauaki was penalised for a dangerous throw, and though the Wolves clung on, coach Tony Smith still wasn’t happy.
‘We’re frustrated with how we’re playing,’ said Smith. ‘We have to rectify that so we don’t have to do it the hard way.’
Try time! Wolves' Briers scores for the visitors
Wigan: Tries: Hock, McIlorum, Richards.
Goals: Richards 2, Charnley 2.
Wigan: S. Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Carmont, Richards,
Finch, Leuluai, Prescott, McIlorum, Lauaki, Hansen, Hock,
Replacements: Flower for Prescott (24), Tuson for McIlorum (66), Lima for Lauaki (17), Farrell for Hansen (26).
Warrington: Tries: Atkins, J. Monaghan, Briers. Goals: Hodgson 5.
Warrington: Hodgson, Riley, C. Bridge, Atkins, J. Monaghan, Briers, Myler, Morley, M. Monaghan, Cooper, Waterhouse, Westwood, Grix.
Replacements: Blythe for C. Bridge (27), Wood for Cooper (20), Hill for Grix (27).
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury).
Warrington had briefly led following
Ryan Atkins’ early try, but Sam Tomkins set up Pat Richards at the start
of the second half to put the hosts in control, only for Lee Briers’
interception try to set up a tense finish.
Warriors boss Shaun Wane
said: ‘I feel like our pocket has been picked.’
The Wolves looked anything but likely victors in an error-strewn opening in which Simon Grix, Michael Monaghan and Trent Waterhouse put their side under enormous pressure by surrendering possession deep inside their own half.
Richards punished them with a penalty which took him past 2,000 points but it merely served to relieve the pressure and the Wolves scored the game's first try from their first meaningful attack.
Half-backs Lee Briers and Richie Myler moved the ball out to the left where centre Ryan Atkins proved unstoppable from 10 yards, taking Darrell Goulding and Josh Charnley over the line with him.
Hodgson's touchline goal made it 6-2 but then Wigan forward Gareth Hock came into his own, intercepting Joel Monaghan's pass to relieve pressure on his own line and causing havoc at the other with his powerful running and offloading.
He levelled the scores on 18 minutes, forcing his way over for a try from acting half-back, and Richards' second goal restored the Warriors' lead before substitute Liam Farrell's break set up the position for hooker Michael McIlorum to add a second try on 26 minutes.
The action was fast and furious as both sides continued to create chances only to be thwarted by magnificent defence.
Atkins came to Warrington's rescue
with a crucial tackle on birthday boy Sam Tomkins before Brett Finch
performed similar heroics to deny Briers and it took some exceptional
finishing by Warrington winger Joel Monaghan to break the deadlock.
Decider: Hodgson kicked the winning penalty
The Australian took Hodgson's cut-out
pass to dive over at the corner five minutes before half-time and bring
his side to within two points.
Hodgson was inches wide with the goalkick but levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time with his first penalty.
try-saving heroics continued in the second half, with Chris Riley
halting Tomkins' trademark mazy run, but it set up the position for
George Carmont to get Richards over at the corner.
who took over the goalkicking with Richards nursing a thigh injury, was
off target for the second time but re-established his side's six-point
lead with a penalty.
Briers then intercepted Thomas Leuluai's pass to score Warrington's third try and Hodgson's goal made it 18-18.
second Charnley penalty on 55 minutes edged the home side back in front
and Richards had a try disallowed for putting a foot in touch as Wigan
began to look the more likely winners.
As the tension mounted, tempers became frayed and Wigan prop Epalahame Lauaki was put on report by referee Richard Silverwood for raising his elbow.
Hodgson levelled the scores for a fourth time with a 67th-minute penalty and, as Wigan continued to incur the wrath of referee Silverwood, the veteran full-back added another from 40 metres out to settle it.